When Disney bought Lucasfilm back in 2012 for just over $4 billion, it was one of Hollywood’s biggest acquisitions of all time. For Disney, there was little doubt that it was a good move. It brought two family-friendly brands under one roof. However, the successful of the Star Wars franchise has probably surprised even the most optimistic Disney shareholder.
Five years after the deal Disney has made back its entire investment, solely by the combined worldwide box-office sales of The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi. All three have raked in just over $4.06 billion. Of course, this doesn't take into account the marketing budgets for the three films – but it also doesn’t include their merchandising sales from toys or theme park rides. However, you look at it, it’s safe to say the the 2012 deal was a steal and maybe even Disney’s best business move. Since taking over George Lucas' franchise, Disney has built up the Star War universe into a massive empire of comic books, amusement park attractions, and spin-offs that have been huge successes.
Disney’s CEO Bob Iger is no stranger to making big acquisitions. He bought Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion and Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 billion. Both production companies have gone on to make billions at the box office — a whopping $17 billion for Marvel across 20 films and $13.2 billion for Pixar over 13 films.
Lucasfilm is poised to do the same, as its first three films all made over $1 billion at the global box office — "The Force Awakens" made $2 billion. "Solo: A Star Wars Story" was the only film that was widely panned at the box office, making under $400 million worldwide.
When it was time again to revisit the Star Wars universe, Lucas, who wanted to handover the reigns, hired Kathleen Kennedy, an industry veteran and long-time associate of Steven Spielberg and with the special effects team at Lucasfilm. She became the perfect person to broker a deal between Disney and Lucasfilm. Kennedy would become the head of Lucasfilm after it was sold to Disney.
Shares of Walt Disney are up 15.6 percent since last year and more than a whopping 127 percent since Disney purchased Lucasfilm six years ago. Disney continues to plans to release a Star Wars saga movie every other year and a stand-alone title in the opposite year. It's reasonable to think that the movies which advance the ongoing Skywalker of Solo saga and will be at least as successful as the previous films.
That would mean that Disney would earn about $1 billion, which would be profit after paying off the debt owned from the purchase of Lucasfilm, just from box office every two years from its purchase of Lucasfilm. Add the other Star Wars revenue, like the estimated $500 million in licensing and retail revenue Disney made in the first year after The Force Awakens was released, and it's very clear Disney got a bargain buying Lucasfilm.
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